Kamasutra: the bible of sexual positions

You must have heard of Kamasutra, a book known today around the world for the list of sexual positions it contains. It was written primarily as a reference book about relationships, eroticism and sex. So, what does it contain?

Is Kamasutra a bible of sex?

Nowadays, Kamasutra is one of the best-known books in the world. It comes in the form of a collection comprising in all seven books, including one, the best known, which can be considered as a kind of “dictionary” of different sexual positions. The rest of the book contains writings on sex, love, couple and eroticism. Its origin dates back to the 1st and 5th centuries AD. It was written by Vatsyayana, a writer from medieval India, who believed that a good knowledge of Kama (which means “desire” in Sanskrit) was essential to human well-being and fulfilment. It is intended to be a true bible of sex and romantic relationships, a kind of practice manual of erotic pleasure for all.

Pleasure at the heart of the writings

Indeed, the Kamasutra places the pleasure, and more particularly the joy within the sexuality, at the heart of the blossoming and the search of the happiness. The book was addressed initially to the upper classes of Indian society. The goal was to give them the keys to establish harmony in their relationship and their relationships. It is, therefore, a collection of prescriptions, where we teach the art of kisses, caresses and tenderness. The book is also universal: it is addressed to all men and women, heterosexuals as homosexuals, couples or not. Pleasure is here seen as a common goal, accessible to all and essential to the well-being and the proper functioning of human relations.

A book with varied themes

Several themes are discussed in Kamasutra. Nowadays, only the part about the positions of Kamasutra to make love is known to the general public. Kamasutra is a much larger book, which compiles several writings on sex, love and eroticism. Only one chapter is devoted to positions. The other, lesser-known parts, which make up the majority of the book, deal with the couple, marriage, relations between women and men, and so on. The Kamasutra is also and above all, a practical guide to providing advice and answers to specific questions or dysfunctions in sexual practice. Thus, topics such as difficulty reaching orgasm in women are also discussed.

The positions of Kamasutra

There are altogether 64 sexual positions in Kamasutra. These are explained in a sober, purely descriptive way. No judgment or comment is made. Thus, we are not told if a position is considered more “acrobatic”, more “erotic” or which brings more pleasure to men or women. On the contrary: all are put on the same level, and it is up to each couple and the individuals themselves to find the sex positions that suit them. Of the 64 illustrated positions, some are known by everyone, while others are more acrobatic. Each of them has a particular name, often without any sexual connotations: “the monkey”, “the good of the tiger”, “the butterfly”, etc. In the explanations, the male sex is called “lingam”, and the female “yoni”. For each position, a short description of the interlocking of the bodies is made.

An erotic book, but not pornographic


The illustrations accompanying the sexual positions did not appear until later, around the sixteenth century. Initially, when writing the book, only the texts were present. The drawings served to understand the description of the positions better and to disseminate them around the world, especially at the time when the book was not yet available in different languages. It was not until 1871 that Kamasutra was translated for the first time from Sanskrit to English. Its diffusion first scandalized Western societies, before it was recognized as a reference work in the next century.

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